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Reflection on the Book, The Pastor as Public Theologian

This blog posting presents a reflection on Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan's book entitled "The Pastor as Public Theologian." This reflection will present a general summation of the book, a reaction to the central argument, and critical insights that can be applied to my ministry praxis. Additionally, I will share insights into my definition of the pastor as a public theologian.

Vanhoozer & Strachan, 2020 eloquently describes the pastor who serves as a public theologian as one who is a guardian to the enigma of God, and consequently an individual who seeks to serve and build up others into being transformed into a people of Christ[1]. The authors further contend that for this occur, the pastor must engage in a continuous intake of prudent theology, bible study, and contemplative prayer[2]. An interesting caveat mentioned in the novel was that the pastor's office should not be seen as a regular office facility, but rather it should be referred to as a study[3].

Vanhoozer & Strachan skillfully utilize the apostle Paul as an example of the consummate pastor and public theologian who effectively used the parameters of verbal ministry to open the listener's mind to Christ. The authors thus contend that the pastor of today should seek to use Paul's framework to guard the message of Christ and feed their flock a steady diet of the Christology message. With the aforementioned message containing the elements of expositional context, Christological doxology, pastoral oversight, and missional awareness[4].

The final key ingredient in the book's central argument is the thought that pastoral preaching is critical in fostering theological as well as biblical literacy, in addition to competency, and common sense[5].

I agree with the authors' central argument that the pastor should be viewed as a public theologian from a general perspective. I would define a pastor who serves as a public theologian as one who unapologetically studies the Biblical scriptures in an exegetical manner so that sound doctrinal truths and positions can be shared with the pastoral audience. The sharing of these doctrinal truths should be in a manner that can be applied in the lives of the hearers and in a manner where that audience can confidently evangelically share their insights with others.

I surmise, therefore, that the role of the pastor has become somewhat ambiguous in recent times. This vagueness has arisen because the role of the pastor has, particularly in the western culture, evolved into that of a Chief executive officer. Adding to the confusion is the emergence of pastors with specialized titles specific to their responsibilities within the various church ministries. While I have an appreciation for the various iterations of pastoral ministry, my fundamental position is that the role of the pastor is to serve as a public theologian. To break it down further, a lead pastor should offer a theological perspective to the general church context; the youth pastor should offer appropriate theological insights to their context in a manner that can be easily comprehended. Likewise, in the case of children ministry pastors, among others.

Accordingly, when this is done, it is my view that it places the pastor in alignment with the instructions that Paul gave Timothy. This is where we find the young church leader being encouraged to give devoted attention to the public reading of scripture, in addition to teaching and preaching of God’s word. Furthermore, Timothy was admonished as a spiritual leader to pay close attention to the doctrine that he was sharing because it held the power to save not only himself but also those within his purview (1 Timothy 4:11-16).

In my current context, the change would be aggressive but still necessary. This is important because in today's post-modern society that has become highly secular, there is a need for the Christian church and all of its rank and file members and adherents to be theological sound and prepared to defend the tenets of the faith that we profess.


Vanhoozer, Kevin J, and Owen Strachan. The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2020.

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The Pastor as Public Theologian. n.d.

[1] Kevin J Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2020), p.22. [2] Kevin J Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian, p.30. [3] Ibid, p.31 [4] Ibid, pp.57-64. [5] Ibid, pp.157-160.

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